ACTIVITY DESCRIPTIONS FOR
CREATIVE AND PLAYFUL WAYS TO ENGAGE LEARNERS PART 1
Creative and Playful Ways to Engage Your Students on Zoom: Activity Descriptions
SHOW YOURSELF IF
This is an ice-breaker to help participants who are meeting for the first time to connect with one another and see what things they have in common.
The host begins by asking everyone to stop their video.
The host then states a prompt that begins with “Show yourself if…” and can be followed by whatever you’d like. Ask participants to start their video if the prompt is true for them. Example prompts include:
Show yourself if you have a pet
Show yourself if you are you the oldest sibling
Show yourself if you like ice cream
Once the participants have shown themselves, pause a moment to allow all participants to take in everyone who has shown themselves. Then ask everyone to stop their videos again.
Repeat for as many times as you’d like. Once you have done several rounds, you may choose to ask other participants to provide their own prompt. Feel free to give them the option to do so vocally, or to type their prompts in chat where you can then read the prompt out loud for them.
STORY OF YOUR NAME
This activity is a great icebreaker and a nice way to learn more about each other. This can be done as a full group activity, as well as in smaller breakout room groups.
Announce to the group that each person will be sharing the story of their name.
It can be any name -- first, middle, last. If you don't have a story about your name, tell us what your name means to you. You have 1 minute to share your story before the next person shares.
If you will be doing this activity in smaller breakout room groups, we advise keeping the breakout rooms open long enough for each person to share for about 2 minutes.
You can adapt this in different ways. A prompt you might use is: What does being Jewish mean to you? Or what mitzvahs have you done recently? Or tell us about 1 Jewish person (past or living -- it could be a relative!) that you admire and why.
This is a great warm-up activity to get participants engaged and present. We often use this before having them engage in more involved storytelling activities like Story Spine.
You may choose to have participants do this activity all together in the main session, or if you have a group larger than 10, you may choose to split them up into breakout rooms.
Assign a number to each of the participants and ask them to rename themselves by placing their number in front of their names. This creates an order -- essentially a “virtual circle”. We find it easiest if the host assigns number 1 to themselves.
The host holds an imaginary ball and “passes” the ball to the next person in sequential order by throwing the ball directly into the camera. When passing the ball, the host says a word.
The next person “catches” the ball, repeating the word that was passed to them by the previous person. They then pass the ball to the next person, saying the first word that comes to mind.
This continues until the last person catches the ball and then passes their new word ball to the first person. The cycle repeats for as many times as you wish.
Notes: This activity should be done quickly. When people play this game for the first time, they may want to spend a lot of time thinking of the “right” word. It’s helpful to remind them the right word is the first word that comes to mind and the objective is to be as quick and spontaneous as possible.
Story Spine is great at keeping participants engaged and gets them to create a fun story together, which in turn helps to establish a sense of community. You can keep this general, and it's also great for incorporating themes or content from class.
The host will ask participants to rename themselves by placing a number in front of their name, from 1 to 9. At this stage, it's also helpful to paste the Story Spine in chat so the participants can easily follow along. You'll find the complete story spine at the end of this description.
The first person will start off with number 1, "Once upon a time" and finish the sentence with whatever they would like.
The rest of the participants will continue in order until they reach number 9.
This activity can also be done in smaller groups, or even just in pairs like the two of us demonstrated in our session with Leo the Matzo Ball.
Once upon a time….
But one day….
Because of that….
Because of that…..
Because of that…..
And ever since then….
The moral of this story is….
10 SECOND SCENES
This activity is great for physicality and creativity.
This is best played in groups of 5-6 participants. You can have participants that aren’t participating stop their videos.
Call out a theme and give the participants 10 seconds (countdown from 10 aloud) to take on a pose of a “character” in that theme. Encourage them to use their imagination and think creatively. For example, if the theme is “beach” encourage them to not only pose as a person sunbathing, but also consider that they can pose as an umbrella, a seashell, the sun, the water, or anything else that might be found at a beach. By the time you’ve counted down from 10, they should be frozen in a pose. If it is appropriate for your group, you might even consider taking a screenshot at this point. These are always fun to look back on later.
Then you try to guess what each participant is posing as. Make sure to have fun with this. The faster and sillier you make guesses, the more enjoyable is it for participants. If you’re stumped after guessing a few times, it’s helpful to use language such as “you stumped me!” or “give us the big reveal!”. This helps the student maintain a positive experience even if you weren’t able to guess what they intended.
*Some themes to consider:
Under the sea